Jerome K. Jerome's Words About Towlines

Updated March 4, 2006

One of our favorite books of all time was written about a boating trip on the Thames in England. We had a similar trip in 1993, but ours wasn't nearly as funny as Three Men in a Boat by Jererome K. Jerome [4k JPG]

This is an excerpt from that book about towlines, but his words apply to any lines on any boat, be it sail or power:

"There is something very strange and unaccountable about a tow-line. You roll it up with as much patience and care as you would take to fold up a new pair of trousers, and five minutes afterwards, when you pick it up, it is one ghastly, soul-revolting tangle.

I do not wish to be insulting, but I firmly believe that if you took an average tow-line, and stretched it out straight across the middle of a field, and then turned your back on it for thirty seconds, that, when you looked round again, you would find that it had got itself altogether in a heap in the middle of the field, and had twisted itself up, and tied itself into knots, and lost its two ends, and become all loops; and it would take you a good half-hour, sitting down there on the grass and swearing all the while, to disentangle it again.

That is my opinion of tow-lines in general. Of course, there may be honourable exceptions; I do not say that there are not. There may be tow-lines that are a credit to their profession - conscientious, respectable tow-lines - tow-lines that do not imagine they are crochet- work, and try to knit themselves up into antimacassars the instant they are left to themselves. I say there MAY be such tow-lines; I sincerely hope there are. But I have not met with them."

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